If you are an agricultural producer or an extension agent, chances are you spend a lot of time outside, especially during the growing season. You know what it’s like to work through extreme heat and humidity, and hopefully you have included time in your schedule to cool off and hydrate. For people who work outside all day harvesting vegetables or cutting down trees, the heat can lead to serious health issues if they get overheated.
As temperatures have continued to warm from the 1960s to the present and are likely to continue doing so due to greenhouse warming, heat-related health issues in outdoor workers are likely to become more of an issue, especially since the warming is being accompanied by an increase in humidity which makes heat indices even worse. The Washington Post published a story about this earlier this week (link) and it is something I often discuss when I am talking about farming in the future. Outdoor workers are going to have to adapt by taking more rest breaks, drinking more water, and perhaps doing more harvesting at night when temperatures are somewhat cooler (although that brings its own safety issues).
I hope you’re monitoring your outdoor workers carefully now for signs of heat stress. In the future, this is going to be more important than ever.